Btrust, the non-profit organisation co-founded by Block CEO Jack Dorsey and rapper Jay-Z to support Bitcoin development in Africa and India, recently completed the acquisition of Qala.
Qala, an organisation dedicated to training African Bitcoin and Lightning engineers, has now been rebranded as the Btrust Builders Programme.
This strategic acquisition represents a significant step towards realising the shared vision of both Btrust and Qala to advance the development of Bitcoin in Africa.
While Btrust, initially seeded with 500 BTC, possesses the financial resources to make a difference, it lacked the infrastructure necessary to cultivate the African Bitcoin talent pipeline. Until now, it primarily relied on granting funds to fulfil its mission.
Qala on the other hand possesses the infrastructure and expertise required for sustainable operations but faces a significant challenge in securing adequate resources to sustain its mission.
When asked about the most pressing challenge facing Qala, CEO Femi Longe candidly identified financial constraints as the foremost issue.
Financial Challenges and Talent Acquisition
Qala operates as a social enterprise and does not generate revenue. Instead, it has depended on grants from various organisations, such as the Human Rights Foundation and Coinbase Giving, to support its initiatives.
“The challenge is that generosity and sometimes opportunities in Bitcoin kind of tracks with the price of bitcoin just as hiring does, which is the second challenge we faced. So when there is a bear market, bitcoin companies tighten their buckles,” Longe said.
Furthermore, aside from covering the operational expenses, Qala requires funding to provide stipends to fellows who progress to the intensive phase of the program, which ensures that their primary focus remains on the training program.
Moreover, it’s important to acknowledge that persuading senior-level engineers to transition into Bitcoin development incurs higher costs.
This is partly because these experienced professionals expect a commensurate stipend as part of the program.
Their significance lies in their ability to tackle complex challenges more swiftly than their junior and mid-level counterparts.
Longe elaborated on this point, stating that while they have successfully attracted junior to mid-level talent, the challenge lies in how to entice highly experienced developers to view this as a viable career pathway.
“I believe with the resources we have access to as part of the trust, the opportunities and the pathways to experiment and explore more in that direction [getting senior talents] increases.”
Both Longe and Stephanie Titcombe, who serves as the program manager at Qala, are set to assume roles as program leads for Btrust Builders within the Btrust organisation.
Btrust to Empower African Bitcoin Talent
The program is now pivoting its focus towards open-source training and is extending an invitation to senior African software developers to engage in Bitcoin and Lightning development.
“We’re incredibly proud to welcome Femi and his excellent team to Btrust,” said Btrust Board Member Ojoma Ochai.
Bernard Parah, co-founder & director of Qala further added, “With Qala’s extensive outreach and world-class programs, the organisation has made rapid progress in driving open-source development in the Global South through the advancement of education within the region, which is heavily aligned with our core mission at Btrust.”
“When we launched our program in 2021, our objective was straightforward: to cultivate a substantial number of African engineers well-versed in Bitcoin’s potential to transform the continent,”
“Today’s announcement significantly expedites this mission, enhancing our ability to not only grow our current community but also provide them with the resources to actively contribute to Bitcoin’s open-source development as a crucial solution to Africa’s distinct socio-economic challenges.”